CFA is committed to putting safety first and in line with the Chief Officer’s Expectations asks staff and volunteers to not only speak up but also foster an environment that encourages everyone to speak up.

Anyone who has led a team will know the value of having team members who know how and when to speak up. But too often people sit back and say nothing when something really needs to be said – it could be an idea, a suggestion, an observation, a criticism… for some reason they don’t want to speak up. At a rapidly evolving incident, no one has all the answers, but by working together a team may be able to develop a workable solution.

Importance of speaking up • The obvious, is not always obvious to everyone • Speaking up can help avoid errors or assist in recovering from them • The safety of a team can in part be measured by the freedom of their members to ‘speak up’ • Speaking up is often a predictor of team performance Barriers to speaking up There are many reasons as to why people don’t speak up, including; • Fear of being wrong, getting ridiculed or looking incompetent • Perceived effectiveness of speaking up (“won’t change anything anyway”) • Lack of a feeling of responsibility or not feeling like it is their ‘job’ • Not wanting to interrupt other activities/conversations • Cultural and linguistic differences TIPS for speaking up The common approach of speaking indirectly in a ‘hint and hope’ fashion is ineffective, so it is important to; • Be assertive when speaking up • Focus on the problem, avoid the issue of who is right and who is wrong • Always be respectful • Use appropriate body language and tone of voice (avoid being confrontational) Leaders wanting to encourage people around them to ‘speak up’ should; • Establish a culture of ‘speaking up’ through leadership and encouraging regular, open and honest dialogue • Role model (including thanking/ praising those who speak up appropriately) • Listen rather than judge – be open to hearing ideas and views different to your own; this doesn’t mean you’re going to adopt them • Remember: it begins with you. If you are open and honest, your people will follow your example. Keep an eye out for other safety tips across CFA channels as part of October Safety Month.